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criminal investigation: dealing with a witness

Kylie was witness to the brutal murder of a 66-year-old man in broad daylight outside a bank on a busy New York street. The two perpetrators shot the man dead and escaped with the cash-filled bag he had been carrying. When the investigating officer arrived on the scene, he started questioning Kylie and found that she was not forthcoming with information about the scene or the description of the perpetrators. The officer threatened Kylie with dire consequences if she was not more cooperative with the police. The reason for the officer's attitude was that if Kylie did not help them to identify the criminals they would roam at large, being free to eliminate witnesses, including her. Furthermore, they could continue targeting and killing other victims.

Do you think the officer's reaction was justified, and would the officer's behavior make Kylie more cooperative with the police?

In your opinion, what steps should be taken prior to interviewing a witness who is less than forthcoming or unwilling to get involved? Discuss the ideal location for the interview and the reasons you think the location is ideal.
•Explain the numerous methods of obtaining information from people. Give your opinion about an ideal interview environment which will enable the witness to give out maximum information.
•If a witness is not forthcoming with information about the crime scene or the description of the suspects, how would you induce the witness to be more cooperative? Explain what steps should be taken prior to interviewing such a witness.
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Do you think the officer's reaction was justified, and would the officer's behavior make Kylie more cooperative with the police?

The officer's reaction is not justified because if the "witness" doesn't want to testify, she is not obligated to do so. Witnesses have many reasons why they refrain from issuing testimony, and in this scenario she may believe that giving testimony or a statement would place her life in jeopardy. The cop can't compel her to issue any statements based on threats or any other coercive measures. Therefore, the police officer was wrong in his actions to threaten a potential witness with criminal charges that would be unconstitutional and violate her civil rights.

In your opinion, what steps should be taken prior to interviewing a witness who is less than forthcoming or unwilling to get involved? Discuss the ideal location for the ...

Solution Summary

A criminal investigation dealing with a witness is examined.

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